The Ministry of Justice has published its response to the consultation on guardianship of the property and affairs of missing persons. In its response, the Ministry said:

”The response was overwhelmingly positive both to the principle of guardianship and the provisional proposals for implementing it. Having considered the responses, the government has decided to proceed with the creation of the new legal role and status of guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person.”

The key features of the proposed guardianship scheme will be as follows.

  • A guardian will be required to act in the best interests of the missing person, and in this respect, will be subject to duties similar to those of a trustee.
  • The guardian will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian, and will be required to file accounts in much the same way as a deputy appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  • A guardian will be appointed by a court on application by a person with a sufficient interest in the property and affairs of the missing person.
  • The appointment will be for a period of up to four years, with the possibility of applying for an extension for up to another four years.

The government has said that next stage will be to prepare primary and secondary legislation with suitable guidance to help people using the new system to understand what to do. However, it acknowledges that the imminence of the 2015 General Election means the question of when legislation will be introduced will have to be considered by ministers in the next Parliament.